I’m a seventeen year old girl born into a Shia Muslim family. Born and raised in Australia, I’ve always had quite an open-minded view of the world. However, I always held on strongly to my faith until I began to question it at about sixteen years of age.
Now, I won’t go through the details of what led me to become an atheist but I will say that once you are an enemy within, so to speak, especially at a young age, it is not a pleasant journey. I had chosen to wear the Hijab when I was twelve, quite insistently too. I was never forced into it, although many are. I was lucky in that regard, or so I thought.
Living with a single mother and a younger sister, there have always been challenges. After all a Muslim woman living in an antithetical society to her own fending for herself and two daughters from the age of twenty-eight is not an easy task. There are many layers of hardships, luckily my mother language wasn’t one of them.
Above all, my mother’s chief concern was raising us into ‘good Muslim girls’, as is the case in all right winged Muslim families. For either me or my sister to even deviate from Islamic ways (let alone discard them completely) would be, in her eyes, a tragic thing.
With all this in mind, I struggled to hide the disillusionment of what, for the longest time, had been the most important thing to me – Islam. Despite all my efforts to hide this fact, I could not help but let things slip and in the end I stopped hiding it. I ceased practice of all parts of my religion. My initial plan was to do this slowly. Ease in each abandonment of practice but somehow it all ended up messy.
When I asked for permission to remove the headscarf, a thing I shouldn’t really ask ‘permission’ for, I was responded to with a plethora of threats and overall anger but surprisingly allowed to proceed with my decision. To my profound shock and disappointment, when I actually attempted to leave the house I was told to wear my scarf. I could not argue at this point, I was afraid of the consequences.
A few months later things got worse. The fights worsened and the insults were a daily thing. Often prompted from unrelated things. This atmosphere reached its peak at a family friend’s house where I quite vehemently refused the proposal to see a Sheikh and threatened to run away. It got a little violent and I spent a night away from home. But amongst all the chaos I was allowed to remove the Hijab for good.
In hindsight, things could have been dealt with better but I do not regret it. No matter how I dealt with it either a trip to the mosque or even a religious trip to my mother’s homeland would be the end result.
I’m back home now desperately trying to complete my last year at school. I have finals soon and I’m trying to focus on that.
Amongst all the obstacles, I managed to get the most freedom possible for myself. My message is always fight for what YOU think is right, to the extent YOUR circumstances allow. For me, it could have been much worse and I regret pushing so far sometimes but then I look at what I’ve achieved for myself. It’s now been three weeks since I took off the Hijab and I feel very free. It was a little challenging to face the Muslim community but there were many people who, to my surprise, supported my decision. This just goes to show that in any community you CANNOT paint everyone with the same brush despite what is taught in their ideological systems.